Presented on Wednesday, September 20, 2015 at the Quarry Farm Barn. Mark Twain's relationship with God lies at the center of his work. He engaged in a life-long struggle with belief, and in his works God is presented in various characters - always a target while simultaneously the judge. Twain described God as a hypocrite and as a petty, cruel, capricious Trickster, and he believed that God could have made good children but made bad ones; then when they sin they are punished for being what He made them. But Twain also saw himself in league with God to run this "branch office down here." His mother and wife were devout, and his best friend was a minister. he lost his father early, came of age in a nation wracked with war, had a tremendous sense of guilt, and identified with suffering all around the globe. His heart for social justice never left him comfortable with things as they were. Perhaps it's best to say that mark Twain believed in God, but he wanted a better God. His complex views of God will be surveyed in works throughout his career in this illustrated lecture.
Jeanne Campbell Reesman is Professor of English and Laura and Jack Richmond Endowed Fellow at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). AT UTSA she has served a Division Director of English, Classics, Philosophy & Communication and as Graduate Dean. She has served as a Fulbright professor in Greece and France. She is a prolific scholar in American literature, including works on henry James, William Faulkner, Jack London, and Mark Twain. Recent books include the MLA Approaches to Teaching Jack London (2015), co-edited with Kenneth K. Brandt; Jack London, Photographer (2010) with Sue Hodson; and Jack London's Racial Lives (2009). She is in the process of writing Mark Twain vs. God: The Story of a Relationship, to be published by the University of Georgia Press in 2016.